Who needs Left Behind when Right Behind is the more accurate theology?

IMG_8605If you’re familiar with Left Behind series of books authored by Tim LaHaye and Jeremy B. Jenkins, then you likely know there is a new movie coming out in theaters starring Nicholas Cage. In movie parlance having Nick Cage star in your movie is an opportunity to give real credibility to the story you are trying to tell. Or sell. 

The plot line of the new movie according to imbd.com goes like this: “A small group of survivors are left behind after millions of people suddenly vanish and the world is plunged into chaos and destruction.”

Interesting the generic description makes no mention of the notion that God is the destructive force behind the chaos. It also avoids mentioning the fact that the entire notion of the Rapture upon which the movie is founded was fabricated in the 1830s to give the Bible a more actionable relevancy at the dawn of an era when science would soon explain the very origins of life. It was both a fearful attempt at garnering followers that was simultaneously based on fear as it attractive feature.  

So the books and movies upon which the Left Behind series are based depend on a worldview conceived in the mid-1800s, and it hasn’t advanced one bit. Nor does it seem concerned with how it openly deceives people with its falsehoods based on highly literal interpretations of obviously symbolic imagery, a patent hunger for sensationalism and a myopic stance on the role of religion or Christ in history. It simply wants to sell itself off as the truth. 

The entire Left Behind series was contrived to market a competing worldview to that founded on science, humanism or even a rational Christianity. But we must be cognizant of the fact that the Rapture was an emotional concoction dreamed up to make the Bible a more scary and interesting book, thus creating converts. 

Here’s how the website Stormloader described the whole Rapture enterprise and its beginnings: 

“The theory of the rapture began in the early 1830s. It was invented by Margaret MacDonald of Scotland and promoted by Edward Irving. Margaret claimed to have had visions of the second and third coming of Christ. Irving, a Presbyterian preacher, promoted the idea that there was to be a restoration of spiritual gifts before Christ’s return. It was at that time, the 1830s and 1840s, when he expected Christ’s return to take place. The date for Christ’s return was set for 1844. The year came and Christ did not return. Nevertheless, many continued to follow the leadership of Irving. He emphasized the tongues (speaking in…) gift. This was not the genuine tongues of the Acts of the Apostles, but the phony tongues of speaking gibberish and claiming it to be a gift from God. The Presbyterian Church kicks him out as his movement began to slide into high gear.”

Since that period in the 1800s when the so-called Rapture was invented, there have been numerous attempts to cobble together similar scriptural narratives using both literal and highly fantastical elements of the Bible to predict the Second Coming. All of these efforts have failed of course.

The most recent high-profile predictions came from Harold Camping, a doomsday minister whose Family Radio talk show featured his threateningly deep voice and a patiently impatient method of teaching and correcting his listeners on scriptural meaning. His predictions that the world would end May 11, 2011 did not come true. The Fox News website describe’s Campings embarrassment and disillusionment when his calculations about the end of the world again failed. 

“Camping’s most widely spread prediction was that the Rapture would happen on May 21, 2011. His independent Christian media empire spent millions of dollars — some of it from donations made by followers who quit their jobs and sold all their possessions– to spread the word on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 RVs plastered with the Judgment Day message.

When the Judgment Day he foresaw did not materialize, the preacher revised his prophecy, saying he had been off by five months. The preacher, who suffered a stroke three weeks after the May prediction failed, said the light dawned on him that instead of the biblical Rapture in which the faithful would be swept up to the heavens, the date had instead been a “spiritual” Judgment Day, which placed the entire world under Christ’s judgment.

But after the cataclysmic event did not occur in October either, Camping acknowledged his apocalyptic prophecy had been wrong and posted a letter on his ministry’s site telling his followers he had no evidence the world would end anytime soon, and wasn’t interested in considering future dates.”

Of course he wasn’t interested in further predictions. Because by then he knew his worldview was false and contrived. He was dead wrong about the entire theology of the rapture and the end of the world. But Camping has been far from alone in being so wrong. Dozens of such predictions have been made over the ages and not one has come even close to being right. Even during turn of the millennium in the year 2000 when the world seemed ripe for a revelatory experience, there seems to have been on important entity that forgot to listen. That would be God, who failed to follow the instructions of all those earthly doomsday prophets and freakazoid survivalists stocking water and freeze-dried food in their basements. 

God seems content to ignore earthly profits as well. Which is why the creator of all things has not kept writers Timothy LaHaye and Jeremy B. Jenkins from leveraging an ugly take on prophetic scripture into millions of dollars in profits from their books and movies about the rapture. 

Frankly it’s not that hard to come up with a rapture narrative. Absent of historical context and its limiting scope, the Book of Revelation and the Book of Daniel and others can be mashed together into a thriller about the end of the world. Never mind that the real purpose of Revelation was to give hope to believers in the face of Roman persecution. But it is also a work of vengeful desires and prayers for deliverance. Hence its appeal to an American society where those two values seem to be everywhere in the politics of the politically conservative voters and believers. 

A broad segment of the evangelical and pentecostal Christian community still seems to view the interpretation of Revelation as the end of the world, and a fitting end to the Bible, itself a highly symbolic (though often literally interpreted) sequence of letters and narratives written to record and describe the faith community that built up around Yeshua, a wandering teacher and prophet whose words and actions inspired descriptions of him as the Son of God. 

When the Jewish man named Yeshua, or Jesus as he is popularly known, was crucified by the Romans for essentially disturbing the peace, the legend and religion that grew up around centered on his position as “The Christ,” the son of God. 

It was hard for many to believe that the son of God could be hung on a cross and bled to death. Yet the religion that grew out of his acts adopted these sacrifices as signs of acceptance and atonement. Christianity lived as an underground movement for quite a while before Rome and then history adopted its tale as encompassed in a carefully rigged book known as the Bible as doctrine. 

We use the term “rigged” intentionally, because there were competing versions of the Christian intent and purpose. These were ultimate quelled and culled from the Canon, but not the book Revelation. It was far too useful and fanatic a book to discard along with other mystic visions of life with Jesus and life beyond this earth. 

As time wore on, the context of Revelation was lost. Its angry accusations toward Rome and predictions that all hell would break loose for barbarians, whores and lustful emperors came to be regarded as something else entirely. The allusions and shared allegories for destruction were wrapped together with the Book of Daniel, from whom it inherited equal parts anger and hope for deliverance, to make a supposed whole. 

The idea that the Bible somehow works like tarot cards, or like a palm reader or an astrologist is so invited to some people that they actually buy into belief systems such as those advocated by End Times Theology or the Left Behind series. What makes this even more sad and distracting is the vengefulness of the narratives contained in these books and the movies that stem from them.

Why do so-called Christians not call the authors into accountability for the false and even evil nature of End Times theology? Because something in it truly appeals to the certainty they require of their religion. Everyone wants to find a certain thing when they wrestle with the notion of faith and God and salvation. The aggressively righteous always seem to gravitate to religion that delivers a notion of victory.

Yet it was Jesus who seemingly lost, big time, when he was crucified. HIs own disciples were distraught and even angry at this notion when he predicted it. Then he was mocked by those who made fun of the fact that he was labeled a king.

The real focus of faith should be centered not on the Left Behind series, which celebrates a violent end to the ages. Instead we should be centered on the notion that someone is Right Behind us, and it happens to be the person we most seek to follow. That is Yeshua. Jesus, the Jew that transcended the laws of the Jews with a new law, one of tolerance, love and mercy. A love that is a guide for all our actions if we have enough common sense to listen to the voice behind us, urging us onward, to do good, love well and to seek or offer forgiveness.

Yes, that love that comes with responsibility and commitment and acknowledgement of grace. But consider what this wonderful verse from Isaiah 30:21 has to say about the type of certainty we can gain from a faith that is focused on Right Behind rather than Left Behind. 

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

It’s actually Open Carry they’re really after

By Christopher Cudworth

National approval for Open Carry is next on the agenda of the American gun lobby. Wait and see.

National approval for Open Carry is next on the agenda of the American gun lobby. Wait and see.

I saw another sign banning Concealed Carry the other day. It was posted on some street barriers in anticipation of Cruise Night at a nearby town. You know the sign: A picture of a handgun with a red circle and a slash through it. 

Right now it is legal for some organizations to post one of those signs. If you run a church or conduct a community event where weapons might not be welcome, you can request or demand the right to ban weapons on the site. 

This must rankle all those people who think Concealed Carry is the answer to all our social problems. After all, the laws passed in all 50 states are supposed to guarantee the legal right to pack heat, right? What’s the real point of banning guns anywhere? If you can’t take your handgun into church and someone decides to shoot the place up, how are you going to defend yourself? 

False Premises

That’s the premise of Concealed Carry. The idea that other people might be legally carrying weapons is supposed to be a deterrent to criminals who might otherwise choose to pull guns and open fire. 

Only deterrence is just an imagined protection. There’s no real proof that the idea of other people carrying guns is any real deterrent to people angry enough or bored enough or frustrated enough to pull out guns and start shooting at people in public places.

False Logic

The supposed logic of so-called Concealed Carry doesn’t bear out at any level. Let’s face it: the only real deterrent to anyone about to shoot up society is another person with a weapon openly displayed and aimed at their head. 

thSo thinking it all through, it’s actually Open Carry the gun lobby is really after. Concealed Carry was just a stepping stone Open Carry becoming the norm in society. We’ve already seen gun-obsessed people strolling through towns and cities with rifles over their shoulders, daring anyone to protest their presence. 

Fantasies and Delusions

Open Carry is what they really want. It’s time to force the gun lobby to admit it. Concealed Carry is no real deterrent to illegal use of weapons. Only Open Carry can do that. Otherwise the shooter figures they can outdraw anyone in a gunfight. That’s what the Hollywood movies and all those hardass gun instructors like to teach. Shoot first and best and you survive.  

It’s all based on fantasies and delusions. Everyone figures they’re a faster gun and better aim than everyone else. It’s like the opposite of winning the lottery. With Concealed Carry, the odds of being shot are growing bigger every day. It’s a fascinating phenomenon, and the fact that more civilian Americans have died from gun violence than all the American soldiers that have died in foreign wars is no deterrent to the gun lobby. They just want more, more, more. 

Stand Your Ground Foolishness

Along with Concealed Carry, the worst news for people who appreciate freedom from violence has been the invention of the Stand Your Ground laws. Such laws were supposedly created to give people protection with the right to “defend” themselves in situations where they feel threatened. But guess what? Stand Your Ground laws are proving to be a bad, bad idea. Studies by the American Bar Association have shown that Stand Your Ground laws actually result in an increase in homicides rather than a decrease in gun violence. The American Bar Association report recommends the laws be revised or in some case repealed as a result. 

An article about the report in the Lansing (MI) News states the following: “The task force also suggests that the laws (SYG) only apply if the aggressor shows a weapon before deadly force is used, and recommends that judges give juries more detailed instructions on when a “stand your ground” claim can be used.”

Now a normal person would read that paragraph and say “Good, they’re going to roll back the Stand Your Ground laws because it promotes gunfights.” 

But a gun advocate will likely look at that statement and determine that the better solution is to remove all need to conceal weapons. Let Open Carry be the rule of the day and criminals will really be deterred from attacking. 

Except continuing escalation in the militarization of society is turning the process of enforcing the law from a police action to a military strike against those trying to outgun them. 

The comments on the Lansing News website led off with this insightful screed (sic): 

Taxburdened20111 hour ago

 
“Obviously an article written by a progressive.  The right to own weapons is guarenteed by the 2nd Amendment, quit trying to change our right to own weapons and to change the constitution to your ideolical views, just for once, will you?????  Doubt it, but I still comment on it!  Only the criminal will subvert this right by not owning a weapon legally.  Most, if not all non-criminals will own a weapon legally and registered.  We have nothing to hide, all we want is something to protect ourselves from idiots like yourself who happen to to want to take our right away Mr. Brian Smith! Is that your purpose in this article Mr. Smith???
 
All told, the process of the militarization of society is a self-fulfilling prophecy for people so afraid of government and society in general that they believe the government is trying to take away their guns and their rights. But when even the police feel like they have to act like an army to keep society under control, the idea of a “well-regulated militia” as proposed in the Second Amendment has been outstripped by the selfish interpretation that gun rights are absolute, literal and untouchable.
 
Open Carry is next
 
Watch and wait. It will probably be just a matter of weeks before Open Carry legislation is introduced at a national level. The timing is just about right, with November elections coming around the corner. Probably Congress will throw a bill like that into the hopper, forcing Democrats who vote against it to go on record. There’s precedent for Open Carry at the state level. Organizations such as Opencarrytexas.org are already on the case. 
 
It’s a sad case, mostly, with people dying every day from gun violence, and gun advocates insisting that the only way to stop gun violence is to hand out more guns and brandish them like cowboys in the streets.
 
It’s been said that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Only it’s much worse than that when it comes to guns in America. The escalation of gun weaponry and accessibility of military-grade guns in the United States is not just insane, it is politically criminal and the absolute result of misinterpreting the Second Amendment to mean that “well-regulated” means no regulations at all.
 
If we had followed the same logic with environmental protection rivers in American would be on fire these days as they were in the 1970s. But we developed some common sense and the EPA has protected us from far worse consequences. 
 
So you can see the comparative paradigm at work here. We’re at a critical point in the gun debate where more powerful weapons is having a toxic effect on society and yet the gun lobby cries wolf in trying to tell us it’s not that bad, and that more guns is the price of progress in a civilized society. 
 
Except it’s really uncivilized, what they keep proposing. The insane logic never ends with these people. It never, ever, ends. 
 
 

The interesting case of James Brady and the conservative lust for guns

FlagWaiverThe Chicago Tribune carried a thoughtful obituary about James Brady, America’s leading proponent for gun regulation and control.

While people may be nominally aware of the so-called Brady Bill passed in 1993 that requires federal background checks for gun buyers, it is worth reviewing the context of who James Brady was, and why he came to be a leading proponent of gun control. According to the Chicago Tribune article, the Brady Bill as it came to be known has blocked about 2 million gun purchases by people who did not meet the requirements of gun ownership due to criminal or mental health records.

The idea that an official serving a key role under a Republican administration could turn out to be a leading gun control advocate almost seems impossible today. These days so many GOP candidates and politicians stand behind the NRA and its position of less gun regulation it is hard to conceive of a Republican official actually lobbying for better gun control laws.

And James Brady served as Press Secretary under none other than President Ronald Reagan, still the standard-bearer for so-called modern conservatism. But therein lies just one of the oxymorons in conservative positions on gun control.

Brady was shot while trying to protect Ronald Reagan from the criminally insane efforts by John Hinckley, Jr. to assassinate the President of the United States. We can all be thankful his efforts were not successful. Certainly conservatives must be happy and proud their President pulled through despite a collapsed lung suffered during the shooting.

Brady was not so lucky. His brain was affected by the shooting. He was partially paralyzed and used a wheelchair the rest of his life. But Brady decided to do something about his lot by using his position as a former top official in the Reagan administration and the notoriety it brought to advocate for better protections against people who want to use guns for the wrong purpose.

Of course we might find that ironic on a number of fronts. So many guns get used for the wrong purpose it far overwhelms the practices claimed by law-abiding gun owners seeking use of guns for self-protection, sport or hunting.

The trouble with all that supposed rightful use of guns is that it only takes a moment’s notice or a bad decision for a gun owner to allow rage or bad judgment or a sudden killer instinct to turn a gun into a murderous instrument.

And after all, guns were designed to kill. In that context they run afoul of all manner of human social values including those laid out in the Christian Bible, where one of the 10 Commandments states “Thou Shalt Not Kill.”

That means anything that makes killing easier to accomplish is an accomplice in the process of murder or even the threat of violence. The relationship between envisioning the crime and actually doing it has a solid biblical history.

The book of Matthew quotes Jesus this way (KJV) : “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”Insecurity and selfishness are just some of the reasons why people commit adultery. Personal desires or lack of self esteem, even jealousy can drive a person to adultery.

The same holds true for gun crimes. The weakness of flesh and spirit that lead to the act of adultery can also lead to acts of anger, frustration or selfish aims (no pun intended) as expressed through gun violence.

How is it that we fail to appreciate that guns are a form of bloodlust? The adultery of guns is murder, for they act as an expression of intent.

That’s what Brady in part sought to recognize and express through his advocacy for gun laws to kept weapons out of the hands of criminals. His particular story was compelling, yet the very party for which he served in politics turned away from his message because it conflicted with the tools so many conservative politicians used to get elected. Side with looser gun rights and you get votes. It’s that plain and simple.

But it is not necessarily more moral or in keeping with the actual purpose and meaning of the United States Constitution. It’s too easy to throw values like freedom and personal autonomy together with so-called conservative Christian priorities like family and church and call them the same thing. If they seem to fit together somehow, who are we to deny that?

There are several problems with this philosophy and approach. For one thing, blithe approval of gun rights ignores the famous or infamous (depending on your perspective) biblical advice to turn the other cheek. Yet the Bible is multiply clear on the subject. Luke 29: “And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.”

So much for using guns in self defense, people. The whole intent of scripture is to live spiritually, not using murderous tools to impose your world view on the populace or the government that represents your interests.

See, there really is nothing conservative about loose gun laws at all. James Brady grew to recognize this when he was shot by a gunman. Brady’s own recollection of the event was something he actually tried to suppress. “I’ve worked very hard at forgetting as much about that as I possibly can,” he said. “But I’ve not been able to do it.”

The whole enterprise of aggressive gun advocacy is not founded on personal pain of the type James Brady experienced. Nor are liberal gun laws a Christian concept as some might have you believe.

The real reason American gun laws are so lax these days is that we left common sense behind in pursuit of some falsely conceived ideal. That is a radical way to proceed, and it has killed more people on American soil than all the soldiers ever killed in wars on foreign soil.

As James Brady tried so hard to express in his lifetime, we’re at war with ourselves over common sense and virtues. After all, Brady was shot even with the world’s leading Secret Service and trained gunman to protect the President’s entourage. You could have thrown a barrel full of guns on the street and it would not have stopped John Hinckley. Nor will it stop the continuous stream of shooters murdering innocent Americans in theaters, schools and shopping malls.

Like the adulterer that imagines lust in their head before committing the act, guns draw people into a lust for mindless action. It’s in their design.

James Brady recognized that. Let us hope his life continues to point out that fact.

 

Are you so dull? Not on your life

DSCN1904The manner in which Jesus conveyed important facts about the nature of God’s Kingdom was apparently, or at least sometimes lost even on his own disciples. His parables used a rich mix of natural symbolism to convey spiritual principles. His purpose in this teaching method was to make it possible for people with little formal training in theology to grasp the perspectives of God.

With his disciples in tow and in regular witness to his miraculous abilities, Jesus used his ministry to build them up to do his work after he left this earth in bodily form. But true to human nature, his disciples did struggle to grasp the meaning of his parables.

The Bible does not shy from sharing this harsh fact with its readers. There is a purpose to this. In many ways the illuminating statement in Matthew 15:16 helps us recognize in ourselves the difficulties the disciples sometimes had in understanding their teacher’s message. The New International Version depicts Jesus harshly questioning their very ability to be his disciples if they cannot comprehend his method of teaching.

New International Version
“Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them.

He’s pretty rough on them.

The New Living Translation goes a little easier on the disciples, depicting a Christ eager to teach and somewhat impatient in dealing with disciples.

New Living Translation
“Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked.

The English Standard Version compares the disciples to the people at large or first experiencing his message.

English Standard Version
And he said, “Are you also still without understanding?

The same goes with the New American Standard translation. Jesus takes his disciples to task for being slow on the uptake. The King James translation is much similar.

New American Standard Bible
Jesus said, “Are you still lacking in understanding also?

King James Bible
And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?

Consider the urgency of the Holman Christian Standard Bible a challenge to us all. After all, we’ve had 2000 years or so to get a grip that the symbolism Jesus used to convey spiritual principles was not meant to be taken literally nor left on the table to fend for itself in conveying the urgent matter of reaching the Kingdom of God:

Holman Christian Standard Bible
“Are even you still lacking in understanding?” He asked.

Then we encounter the abrupt take of the International Standard Version and the NET Bible, both of which throw a direct slam at the disciples.

International Standard Version
Jesus said, “Are you still so ignorant?

NET Bible
Jesus said, “Even after all this, are you still so foolish?

It comes down to this: No matter what translation you choose, the bible is clear in showing that Jesus expects a bit more from his disciples, and all of us, than short-sighted, lazy thinking. It’s clearly not enough to state that “God said it, and I believe it.” Jesus did not allow that brand of thinking in his disciples, and it certainly is no more valued as a mode of thinking today.

Think about that next time you hear someone claiming the earth was created in 7 literal days, or trying to turn their interpretation of scripture into the law of the nation. Jesus did not tolerate those methods in his closest advisors or the enemies of the kingdom of God.

All those who failed to grasp the true message of God were called to account. Do you want to be one of the people who through false-minded zealotry or an aggressive desire fro control and power turn the message of Christ into something that it wasn’t meant to be?

Not on your life.

What a wonderful world indeed

By Christopher Cudworth

cropped-genesiscover1.jpgLiberals and conservatives struggle for control of the cultural narrative. Over the last 30 years or so the two sides have unfortunately found very little common ground.

Of particular note in this culture “war” as it is often characterized is the alliance between fiscal, political, social and religious conservatives. These four sub-groups all hold the reins on certain issues. Fiscal conservatives want less economic regulation. Political conservatives want less government. Social conservatives want less moral latitude and religious conservatives want less of everything that isn’t in line with a fundamental take on scriptural ethics.

Less is more seems to be the conservative mantra. For example, a conservative-led Supreme Court has delivered less controls on political contributions by corporations and less governmental control over birth control. On the conservative front it’s more and more about less and less. Less government spending. Less taxes. Less sexual freedrom. Less choice in reproductive rights. Less of a right to marry for gays.

Yet there are some categories where more is more for the conservative faction. One wing of the lobby wants more and more guns. More military spending too. More incursion against terror on the global and domestic front.

It starts to get complicated at some point. What do conservatives really want, more or less?

There are signs that the very complexity of the world is what vexes conservatism. Where liberals love a little free enterprise in terms of philosophy and thought, conservatives like to break it all down to black and white. Then they make choices.

It happens in education where conservatives tried to simplify the entire scholastic operation to a “teach to the test” method called No Child Left Behind. That initiative has had the ironic effect of killing initiative among teachers nationwide. Teaching to the test is quite restrictive. All those standards stifle creativity in the classroom for both teachers and students. And guess what, it hasn’t really produced a better grade of student.

In higher education the resistance to liberal thought is aimed at colleges where admittedly liberalism is the standard by which many schools operate. But that’s the point. Liberalism is the willingness to engage and study a broad range of ideas in order to come to a conclusion any issue.

That methodology seems to enrage conservatives who would rather see a foundational approach to education. That hasn’t happened except in schools where conservatism is the founding principle of the institution. One thinks of Bob Jones University, for example.

The lack of compliance with conservative principles overall has produced a brand of anti-intellectualism that reaches from the classroom all the way to halls of Congress. Conservatives who do not accept basic scientific principles such as the theory of evolution work hard to undermine its teaching in any academic setting. The same holds true for conservatives who refuse to accept the scientific opinion of 90% of the world’s climatologists telling us that the earth’s atmosphere is warming through anthropogenic influence. In other words, climate change is man made.

Such denial hearkens all the way back to the fundamental beliefs about the origins of the earth. Religious conservatives refuse to believe in evolution because they think it contradicts a literal interpretation of the Bible. Never mind that Jesus himself taught using organic metaphors to convey spiritual principles. Conservatives ignore the scientifically metaphorical teaching style of Jesus because it smacks of an intellectualism that contradicts the fundamentalist approach to all sorts of reductionist thought. In other words, if they follow the example of Jesus, who admonished his own disciples for failing to grasp his parables, it messes with the whole goal of simplifying your worldview to the basics.

But conservatives seem to prefer simplification over liberal engagement on any issue. One could argue that the entire worldview of the conservative movement is summed up in the happy but frighteningly dumb lyrics of the song What A Wonderful World, sung with ironic glee by musicians as diverse as Herman’s Hermits and David Bromberg. The song lyrics go like this:

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the French I took
(But I do know)
But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you love me, too
What a wonderful, wonderful world this would be

Don’t know much about geography
Don’t know much trigonometry
Don’t know much about algebra
I don’t know what a slide rule is for
(But I do know)
But I do know “one and one is two”
And if this one could be with you
(A wonderful world)
What a wonderful, wonderful world this would be
What a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful world

Now I don’t claim to be an ‘A’ student,
But I’m tryin’ to be
I think that maybe by bein’ an ‘A’-student, baby-baby
I could win your love for me

Don’t know much about the Middle Ages
Looked at the pictures then I turned the pages
Don’t know nothin’ ’bout no “Rise and fall”
Don’t know nothin’ ’bout nothin’ at all
(But I do know)
Girl it’s you that I’ve been thinkin’ of
And if I could only win your love (oh girl)
What a wonderful, (what a) wonderful world this would be
What a wonderful, wonderful world this would be

What a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful world
What a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful world

 

It’s sad because conservatism does have so much to offer in terms of holding social standards of morals, ethics and behavior. There is a little bit of conservative in almost all of us. There certainly is in me.

But the close-mindedness of the movement is what causes such resistance on the liberal front, where civil rights, human equality and economic justice are the priorities. Those happen to align with what we learn in the Bible as well. And that’s why some of us think the conservative version of a wonderful world would not be so wonderful at all.

 

More on the Town of Greece v Galloway decision

Originally posted on Why Evolution Is True:

If you want a quick-and-dirty, but informative, take on this morning’s execrable 5-4 Supreme Court decision allowing municipal prayers in Greece, New York, read the analysis at Religion Clause, a site devoted to church-state issues. It breaks down the justices’ decisions (there was a lot of dissent, even among the majority), while avoiding editorializing. We can do that later. (I haven’t yet read the decisions and dissents.)

The most frightening thing on there, though, was this (my emphasis):

An opinion by Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Scalia, explained their refusal to join Part II-B of Justice Kennedy’s opinion. They argued that the Establishment Clause should not be seen as being applicable to the states.

Do we need to remind Scalia, who is an “originalist” (i.e., one who adheres to what he sees as the original intent of the U.S. Constitution’s writers), what the Establishment Clause is? It’s at the beginning…

View original 108 more words

The difference between discrimination and a discriminating religion

By Christopher Cudworth

(CNN) Arizona’s Legislature has passed a controversial bill that would allow business owners, as long as they assert their religious beliefs, to deny service to gay and lesbian customers.

So it has come to pass that segments of the American people think it is their duty to engage in discrimination against fellow American citizens strictly on the basis of their religious beliefs.

CNN reports: Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican and onetime small business owner who vetoed similar legislation last year but has expressed the right of business owners to deny service (says)”I think anybody that owns a business can choose who they work with or who they don’t work with,” Brewer told CNN in Washington on Friday. “But I don’t know that it needs to be statutory. In my life and in my businesses, if I don’t want to do business or if I don’t want to deal with a particular company or person or whatever, I’m not interested. That’s America. That’s freedom.”

Republican Jan Brewer has effectively capitulated the strategy of her political party for the last 10 years. Divide society and conquer to gain the vote, if you can. The goal is to create increasingly divisive political subsets and deliver what those subsets claim to want in terms of selfishly contrived laws appealing to their interests. Then claim that is what America is really all about.

The one major piece of legislation of law favored by the political Right that was passed in the last 10 years was Citizens United. That was a Supreme Court decision granted corporations more rights to determine the outcome of elections by spending more money anonymously. What’s so human about that?

Meanwhile, out in the trenches, panic over an increasingly diminished influence of conservative Christian thought in society has gotten certain legislators to finally try to invoke the virtual theocracy they’ve been praying about for years.

It’s a sickening little fact that the virtual theocracy flies in the face of the American Constitution, which clearly guarantees freedom from religion as well as freedom of religion.

Yet legislators in Arizona have chosen to ignore that fact and pass a law that says businesses can deny service to anyone they choose based on religious grounds.

How do legislators and so-called Christian believers arrive at so egregious a position?

They fail to understand the difference between a discriminating religion, which works to understand the nature of its own beliefs in context of society and culture, and a religion of discrimination, which aggressively refuses to recognize the rights of all those with whom it disagrees.

We see the philosophy of a religion of discrimination at work in many corners of society these days. Creationists who refuse to recognize the verity of science are not by nature discriminating people. Their worldview is created around a blanket acceptance of scripture as inerrant and infallible. Based on this indiscriminate worldview, they attempt to discriminate against the potency of facts that contradict their literal interpretation of the Bible.

It’s pretty easy to see who is discriminate in their religious worldview. It is the people who can accommodate the most practical truth and still believe in God. It is not the people who are constantly shielding themselves from people they believe are different, and therefore evil. To be discriminating is good. To be indiscriminate, and believe in discrimination as rule of law is bad. Even evil.

Keep an eye out. There is evil all around you.